Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Spring Pea Soup with Garlic Croutons and Rhubarb Custard (two super fast and easy recipes!)

We are in the peas! As we wind down rhubarb and pea season, I made a few great recipes for you to try.

Spring Pea Soup

This soup came together fast and was so creamy and delicious.

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a soup pan and heat over medium.

Add a chopped carrot, a few cloves of a garlic, and a handful of diced onion and saute until soft.

In a good blender add 1 can of rinsed navy beans, 1 jar or can of peas (I had a jar that didn’t seal) not drained, and 1 cup of vegetable broth, and a splash of white wine.

Add 1 teaspoon each sea salt, dill, minced dried onion (or add any seasonings you want) and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour in vegetables and oil and process for a few seconds until creamy. Pour back into pot.

Add another cup of vegetable broth to get to desired consistency and heat through. Serve with garlic croutons.

Garlic Croutons

Take day (or four) old bread and cube. Place on cookie sheet (I always use the toaster oven). Drizzle well with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until toasted and dry.

The Easiest Rhubarb Custard in the World

I LOVE custard. I do not love separating eggs and double boiling and such. Well, I don’t mind it, per se, but I rarely take the time. This recipe turned out amazing. I took a little old lady’s oral instructions for custard from the Foxfire 2 book I told y’all about and created my own. In this one, my crust floated up to the top like those old Impossible Pies Bisquick used to market! It was still delicious.

Biscuit Crust

In a mixing bowl combine 3/4 cup flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Add just under 1/4 cup of walnut oil (or olive oil), and 1/3 cup of almond milk (or regular milk). Blend well and spread into a pie plate that has been lightly spritzed with olive oil. Sprinkle with walnuts

Filling

In the same bowl mix 1/2 cup each of flour and sugar. Whisk 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk together well and add 1 cup of almond milk (or milk) and a splash of good homemade vanilla extract. Add to flour and sugar mixture and whisk well. Now add sliced rhubarb (I used a cup of canned rhubarb because I had one that didn’t seal!) Pour over crust.

If you don’t want to add rhubarb, just add a teaspoon of nutmeg and cook without fruit. Or add another kind of fruit!

Cook at 325 degrees in a toaster oven or 350 degrees in a standard oven for 30 minutes or until middle doesn’t jiggle.

Let cool and serve with coffee. It is a real treat!

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Making Your Own Meat Alternatives

A common question to vegans is, If you don’t eat meat, why do you look for things that look and taste like meat? The best answer I saw to this was a response on Instagram, “Because I don’t want to harm animals!” There sure is a lot of false accusations going on on social media regarding meat alternatives in fast food restaurants. All we have to say is, no one gets fast food to be healthy. It is nice to have an alternative in a pinch. The reason the unhealthy meat doesn’t get attacked is because it is illegal to say anything against the meat industry.

So why do we want meat lookalikes? We were born into a society of meat and potatoes, animal laden mealtimes, and comfort food. We weren’t raised with lentils or beautiful ethnic spices or vegetarian fare- save for canned vegetables. Meat alternatives give us a place to rest. To give us the tastes of home without causing harm. They make meal planning easier. We can still whip up old recipes. Chicken fried chick’n with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans is comfort food. Chick’n nuggets with french fries and a big salad with homemade ranch dressing is delish. Pot roast over potatoes and kale or on sandwiches. Ground meat in casseroles or spaghetti sauce.

For me, I never really liked meat, even growing up, so it’s no big thing for me, though it is fun to create these things. My husband is a big meat eater (or was) and he feels more satiated with familiar looking dishes and enjoys a big plate of food. Made healthier and inexpensively, these dishes are fun to prepare and taste amazing. We love cooking together and much of our life is based around growing and preparing our own food. We both love animals as well and have no desire to harm other creatures. And we don’t have to. It is easy to make your own meat alternatives.

I made an easy, healthy ground that tastes amazing and is very versatile. It is high in Omega 3’s, protein, iron, Vitamin D, and many trace minerals. Use equal parts walnuts and mushrooms. I soaked the walnuts for a few hours then drained and rinsed. Place the walnuts and minced mushrooms into a food processor and blend well. Freeze on a cookie sheet and then break up crumbles and place in freezer bag. Scoop out what you need for meals!

For “sausage” I took a cup of frozen crumbles and added in a little olive oil (which made it clump up into sausage-looking crumbles), fennel, paprika, garlic powder, smoked salt, and pepper. I smothered a homemade pizza crust topped with sauce with the sausage and added our favorite combination of black olives, green and red peppers, and pineapple!

For veggie chick’n, we use a recipe from The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester. If cutting it up and putting it in meals, I use as is, but our real treat is to batter it again by dipping it in almond milk then a flavorful blend of bread crumbs and frying it in coconut oil. Chick’n fried chick’n!

For pot roast, roast beast, french dip, etc., Doug uses a recipe from J.L. Fields, a local vegan chef. Go to http://JLGoesVegan.com and look up french dip. We took that basic recipe and altered seasonings and broth and it has become a delicious staple in our house.

Three other must have books to handmake many more alternatives like sausage, hot dogs, chick’n nuggets, ribs, burgers and more are Gaz Oakley’s Vegan 100, Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry, and VBQ- The Ultimate Vegan Barbeque Cookbook by Horn and Mayer. You will also learn to make dairy alternatives and sauces with these books as well.

Chorizo tacos from walnuts.org

A full page advertisement caught my eye in one of my magazines. I went to walnuts.org and found some delicious plant based recipes to make chorizo and ground meat with mouth watering recipes. More and more people are realizing that instead of crazy fad diets like Keto and Paleo, and weird ways to lose weight, veganism offers a way to easily go down to your perfect weight, clear your skin, reverse medical ailments, erase anxiety and depression, boost energy, and it’s just easier than ever! Try some of these alternatives and enjoy cooking and eating!

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

3 Easy Spice Blends and Growing Green Onions

I chopped the fragrant green onions and set them aside. The roots still looked nice so I scooped a little dirt up from the side of one of my plants and stuck the bottoms of the green onion in. Within days they were growing a vibrant green in my Yuletide kitchen. The ginger plant doesn’t seem to mind. It changes the game of winter cooking if you have some fresh onions or chives to sprinkle on.

Fresh spices are wonderful but since we have a fairly short growing season here, not everything grows here, and I love to cook, dried spice blends fill baskets and bins in my kitchen. I probably have close to a hundred or so spices and blends. It is probably in our budget’s favor that I moved away from my favorite spice shop. I created a few delicious blends myself the other day. These would make great holiday gifts or stocking stuffers. They are also economical for one’s own kitchen if you buy the herbs in bulk. A 4 ounce canning jar is perfect for these.

Mole Spice Blend (pronounced mole-then add a long a. It’s pretty fun to say.)

This delicious blend is a surprising combination used in Mexican cooking. Chocolate, cinnamon, and chilies do not seem like a reasonable combination for savory dishes, but wait until you try it!

  • 2.5 Tablespoons of New Mexican red chile
  • 1.5 Tablespoons paprika
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Garlic and Onion Blend

  • 2 Tablespoons dried Garlic (roasted garlic even better!)
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dried green onions
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt

Vanilla Infused Cinnamon and Sugar

  • 4 Tablespoons of sugar (raw, organic preferred)
  • 3 Tablespoons of cinnamon
  • Blend together and add a small piece of vanilla bean to the jar. Close lid and shake well.

Recipe Ideas

Pumpkin Red Chili– I sprinkled 3 Tablespoons of Mole and 2 Tablespoons of the Garlic and Onion blend into a crockpot with 2 cups of pinto beans and 6 cups of broth. Cook on low for 5 hours. Add a good sprinkling of salt and a can of pumpkin. Continue cooking on low for 3 more hours. Adjust seasoning.

Garlic Toast– Take any slice of bread and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle Garlic and Onion blend on bread along with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. Toast in toaster oven.

Vanilla Infused Cinnamon and Sugar can be sprinkled on buttered toast, on pastries, or on top of coffee drinks.

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Piled High Nacho Fries (an easy plant based supper)

We particularly love Thrive magazine, which can be found at places like Vitamin Cottage or Whole Foods. It is a thick, colorful, book-like magazine filled with beautiful synopses of bloggers, Instagrammers, and vegans who share tidbits of recipes. The food photography and the visual inspiration is astounding. Since I rarely follow a recipe word for word, this type of “recipe” book is perfect for me. We look for it when we get to the health food store. We have missed several issues along the way, but when we see it, it is like we have won a great scavenger hunt.

Years ago, we came across a recipe in Volume 9 for fabulous looking Carno-Asada Fries by Chris Petrellese @consciouschris if you are on Instagram. I am not sure why this is, but when we go vegan, we have so much more fun cooking at home. We typically cook more often together and have a good time ad libbing recipes and enjoying the plates of vibrant, delicious food that result. We save all our Thrive magazines, and this recipe is one we come back to time and again. This is our variation of it (which changes each time we make it!):

Nacho Fries

At least 2 hours before you make dinner, put 1 cup of raw cashews into a bowl of water to soak!

  • 4 large russet potatoes- peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch fries. Place potatoes in a bowl and drizzle well with olive oil and mix.
  • Spread out onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until crisp, flipping fries over half way through.
  • Heat up some veggie ground meat. You can purchase already seasoned chipotle or taco meat-style, or buy plain and season it yourself with cumin, chipotle, taco seasoning, salt, pepper, etc. (Another fun idea that we used to do in the past for veggie meat was to soak walnuts in a bowl of water for a few hours, strain, run through the food processor with taco seasoning and wallah! Taco meat!)
  • Make the queso- (Let me just real quick tell you how much I love queso. Real queso is made from some pretty sketchy ingredients and it usually makes me feel pretty gross, so I LOVE cashew queso. Same addictive taste but ever so much better for me!)
  • Strain the cashews and add them to a Vitamix or other powerful blender.
  • Add in:
  • 1 Tablespoon or more Sriracha
  • 4 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Blend completely. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve crispy fries with loads of veggie taco meat, queso, shredded ice berg or romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, cilantro, and guacamole for a delicious, healthy, fun supper!

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Sourdough Making 101

Sourdough is a fermented food, therefore making it easy to digest.  A piece of organic sourdough warm from the toaster with Miyoko’s butter (vegan) smeared across it is divine with a cup of coffee in the morning.  Memories are made around loaves of bread.

20190128_102315

The original starter is from The Amish Cook’s Family Favorite Recipes by Lovina Eicher and is easy to put together.

3 packages of active dry yeast and 1 cup of warm water.  Pour into a small container with a loose fitting lid and refrigerate for 3-5 days.

20190128_102254

Now we add the starter feed. 

Add to that 3/4 cup of sugar (When did everyone get so funny about sugar?  It seems about the time artificial sweeteners came on the market.  Sugar is a plant.  Use organic sugar preferably.)

3 Tb instant potatoes (Bob’s is good, no extra weird ingredients.)

1 cup of warm water

Mix these up and then add the starter in with it.  Keep it on the counter with a loose fitting lid (it has to breathe) for 5-12 hours.  It will get bubbly.

20190128_102403

Use 1 cup of starter and place the rest in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and then feed again, then bake more bread.  I put a note on my calendar every five days.  Pitch the 1 cup if you aren’t making bread.  Sound like a lot of work?  If you have time for Netflix binges, you have ten minutes to work on your sourdough!

Now let’s make some bread!

Dear Lovina was an Amish mama and her recipe that follows the starter is for three loaves of bread.  That is a little much for just me and Pa so I adjusted it to my own tried and true bread recipe.

Mama’s Rosemary Sourdough

Pour one cup of the sourdough starter into a large bowl

20190204_090512

Add 3 cups of white, unbleached, organic flour (You can use 2 cups of white and 1 cup of wheat or other flour but do not exceed that ratio or you will have a cement block.  Been there, done that.)

1 Tb+ of fresh rosemary

1 ts of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of warm water

20190204_115024

Blend well and let sit overnight on the counter or 3ish hours if you are starting in the morning.  Cover with a plate.

20190204_115207

Sprinkle dough with flour and use a wooden spoon to pull the dough into a ball.  Knead 20 times in bowl.  Sprinkle more flour if needed to keep from being terribly sticky.  Cover with plate again for another hour or two.

20190204_124907

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Sprinkle dough with a little cornmeal and shape into a ball.  Spray cast iron pan or cookie sheet with oil and then sprinkle with corn meal.  Place dough on sheet or pan.  You can spray the top of the dough with oil then grate some vegan parmesan on top or add a little more garlic powder.  (Violife is the most convincing parmesan in the world.)  Bake for 40 minutes.

20190204_134206

Cool on rack.  Let cool before serving or the steam will make the center doughy.  Store in an airtight bag.  Tastes best with laughter and wine, or in blessed silence with tea.  Really up to you.  Enjoy!

 

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Colorful Curry Winter Slow Cooker Soup

Need something quick, delicious, seasonal, and nutritious, oh, and easy?  This soup is perfect for cold nights in or for company.  It’s various colors add different antioxidants to the dish which boost immunity.  The beans give it protein and satiates hunger.  The layered flavors are savory with just a touch of heat and salt.  One pot, quick prep, and the meal serves 4-6.

20190130_092652

4 small potatoes

1 yellow/orange beet

1/4 of a purple cabbage

3/4 cup of baby lima beans (or other bean)

2 Tb curry powder of choice

2 ts of garlic powder

5 cups of broth (Preferably from the root cellar.  I used red chile/corn.)

20190130_092458

Chop vegetables and layer everything into crock pot and set to low for 8 hours.  After 6 hours I add 1 Tb of salt because I don’t put any in my broth.  Adjust accordingly to what your soup needs.  It may not need any extra.

Serve with delicious, warm sourdough bread (tomorrow’s recipe)!

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Easy Flautas with Spicy Cashew Queso

I promised on my Instagram (@katiesanders0223) that I would share a super easy meal to get on the table in 30 minutes or less, Flautas!

Oh my, these delicious, savory, crisp at the edges, smothered in Spicy Cashew Queso sure taste like a lot more time went into them.

You can start with leftovers if you wish, any roasted vegetables, beans, veggie meats, etc.  Blend them together with some taco seasoning.  Or grab a bag of Beyond Meat or other veggie crumbles and sauté with onions and garlic, or simply put in refried beans spiced up with taco seasoning.  All depends on what you have on hand.

Now put a layer down the middle of a flour tortilla and roll it up.  Place side down on a cookie sheet sprayed with oil.  Repeat with the rest and leave a little space between flautas so they get nice and crisp.  Spray tops with a little oil spray.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flip and bake another 5-10 minutes until nice and toasted.

Top with guacamole, vegan sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, cilantro, and queso!

Spicy Cashew Queso

Meanwhile make the vegan queso (which is plant based and so good for you!)  This recipe was adapted from a recipe by a blogger @ConsciousChris in Thrive magazine.

Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in a doubled the water for a few hours.  (So you will have to plan ahead)  Strain and put in good blender.

Add 4 Tb of sriracha or favorite hot sauce

4 Tb nutritional yeast (cheesy and very high in B12)

1/2 ts sea salt

1/2 ts of smoked salt (opt.)

1/2 ts of cumin

1/2 ts pepper

1/2 ts garlic

1 cup of hot water

Doug is the master of the vegan queso so he adds more of this or that to our liking.  I like a little bit of hot garlic chili in mine.  It is savory and delicious on nachos or poured over flautas!

Three Juice Margarita

One can’t seriously have Mexican food without a margarita, can they?

Fill a beer glass 1/3 of the way with orange juice, 1/3 apple juice, and a good splash of cranberry juice (let’s all get 100% juice, not from concentrate, shall we?) and a shot of tequila.

 

 

Posted in Entertaining, Holidays

A Frightfully Fun Halloween Party for Any Age

20181025_151626

My daughter, Shyanne, is the queen of Halloween.  She drives an old, lifted Jeep Cherokee with a life sized skeleton named Victor in the front seat all year.  When Shyanne invited me to her Halloween day with my other daughter and granddaughter, I didn’t hesitate (never turn down opportunities to be with loved ones).  I hopped in the car with my witch hat and headed to the eastern plains.

20181025_140929

Now there is nothing quite like the sound of a five year old’s bent-over, belly laugh.  And that is what I was met with.  “You look like a unicorn!” Maryjane wailed, a twinkle in her eye.  “I am a witch!” I declared.  “Looks like a unicorn to me.”

There were crafts laid out, and snacks galore, spooky music met me when I entered through the door.  I got straight to work, for this Grammie has a role.  I make the best Halloween hamburgers (veggie burgers) this side of the veil.  I sneaked the bits of cheese from cutting out eyes and mouths to my scary granddog.

Witch’s brew was put on, just like when the children were small.  Ah, it does not seem like it was that long ago at all.  A jug of apple juice or cider, a handful of brown sugar, a good sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice and let that begin to simmer then serve.

Shyanne put on a spread of easy treats, crackers and chips and cookies.  We decorated warm sugar cookies with edible watercolors and sprinkles.

We made puppets out of tongue depressors glued to construction paper cutouts that we glued googly eyes to.  Shyanne had carefully pre-cut Frankenstein heads, pumpkins, bats, and ghosts out.  We painted and glued and sprinkled our way into the Halloween spirit.  I did notice that is hard to get into the spirit when no children are present.  This was a welcome party for me.

20181025_140311

“The neighbors are going to wonder what is going on,” Emily said, as Maryjane and I danced to Disney songs and howled loudly like werewolves.

20181025_141000
Emily posing with her pumpkins. She is very ready for the new baby to come! (a few more weeks!)

20181025_140234
Maryjane’s broom. It’s a compact like my Fiat.

Pumpkins were carved, and we danced, and sang.  Halloween parties can be impromptu and easy.  For any age, for us older children regress rather quickly in the sight of sugar cookies and glue sticks.  I hope you find a few ideas to incorporate into your own spooky Halloween day!

20181025_144844

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Two Easy, Delicious Dinners for Autumn

Green tomatoes are piled up in a basket, each turning red one by one.  There are spices in the cupboard.  We have piles of retrieved peppers before frost.

20181015_164121

Autumn Curry

Curries are so versatile and very easy.  For this one, I chopped up a head of cauliflower and rinsed a can of chickpeas.  I spread them out on a cookie sheet and drizzled generously with olive oil, and sprinkled on salt and pepper.  That went into a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes.

20181015_164018

If I had been thinking straight, I would have added one of the three dozen peppers waiting to be eaten.

20181015_173333

Now for the sauce.  In a good blender combine 5 red tomatoes, 1 Tb of your favorite curry powder, 2 Tb of cashews, 1 Tb tomato powder, 1 ts salt, 1 ts agave.  Blend well then taste and perfect.  Pour into a saucepan and warm slowly while vegetables are roasting.  Add 1 Tb butter or coconut oil and let that melt in.

20181015_180259

Get a big pot of rice made because you can use it all week!

20181015_181421

Alright, you are done!  Top rice with veggies and sauce and enjoy with a cold pumpkin beer!

Fried Eggs Over Greens and Potatoes with Hot Sauce

20181018_183306

I got out of the car after a long day of visiting relatives in Denver.  On my way to the porch I gathered the collard greens and picked some chives still in the garden.

I had read that morning in a magazine to smash parboiled potatoes and roast them, then top them with eggs and hot sauce.  It sounded so good to me.  But I always like to add a bit more.

Doug had boiled the potatoes before I got home just past parboiled.  This was a triumph because they came out of the oven creamy and crisp.  He transferred them to a cookie sheet smashed them with a saucer.  They had been in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes when I got home.  He then added a dollop of butter and salt and pepper to each one and I went straight to work on the greens.

Wash and chiffonade a good handful of greens.  Heat a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and add greens.  I sprinkled on Cajun seasoning and garlic powder, along with salt and pepper and cooked them just past wilted.  Transfer to a plate.

Sprinkle bread crumbs on potatoes and keep baking.

No need to wipe out the skillet.  Add a touch more olive oil and cook four fresh eggs to over medium.

Split greens and potatoes on two plates and top with eggs and chives.  Serve with hot sauce.  Oh my, people, I cannot tell you how incredible this flavor combination is.  We grew all of the vegetables and our chickens laid the eggs.  A true farm meal.  And delicious.  And fast.  Also good with pumpkin beer.

 

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

Quick Pickled Veggies

We have beautiful cucumbers and vibrant red carrots coming up in the garden.  Lush, fragrant basil, and bok choi leaves.  I have jars and jars of pickles I put up from last year but I wanted something really crisp and refreshing.  These are great to serve with any meal.  They are nutritious and little something different.  Quick pickled veggies are great on sandwiches, on fish, or on their own!  As the jar empties, you can always throw in another cucumber or carrot (or onion, or garlic, or beet…) to keep the batch going.  I suppose after a few rounds you will have to pitch it and make more.  But that’s okay, because it is super easy!

 

20180719_070512In a wide mouth pint jar add chopped veggies that would seem good pickled.  Add in a good sprinkle of salt and some pepper.  Maybe a little hot pepper.  I filled 1/3 of the jar with rice wine vinegar and 1/3 of a way with white wine vinegar that my friend, Rodney made.  Then I topped it off with a little filtered water so that the veggies are submerged.  Replace lid and shake.  Place in fridge for at least an hour.  Farm fresh eating!